On Being Satisfied
Last weekend, I stopped by my father’s home. It was a softer Sunday, the heat was not quite as burdensome, and the leaves were beginning to fall from the trees in his front yard. He had just arrived from teaching a Sunday School class at his church, and I had just published an article on receiving good things from God. Each of us doing our part for the world, though in very different ways. Neither of us terribly impressed with each others’ efforts, but always content to share stories of what we experienced in the last week, or to ask questions related to the divine, the television remote, the crossword puzzle, or anything dealing with life in general.
In my fifty years of knowing this man, it never occurred to me to ask him the question, “Do you know the Lord?”
Also in the same fifty years, he has not once asked me if I know the Lord.
As he told me about repairing a hoist, which lifts his friend up and over the tub for bathing (his friend is unable to do this on his own), we heard the doorbell ring. We never greet such interruptions with enthusiasm, but decided, this time, we would see who was calling. I opened the front door and explained to one older woman, and one younger woman, that Dad struggled to hear everything that was said, and that I might need to repeat what they had to say. After handing me a leaflet, which explained, what I assume, was how much God loved us, she began “the drill”. In some ways, I understand “the drill”, because there was a time that I was exposed to those types of drill masters.
“Do you go to church?”, “where do you go to church?”, “do you know the Lord?”, “how long have you known the Lord?”, and the all to common, among certain circles, “if you died tonight, do you know where you would go?”, and “if you would spend eternity with Jesus?’
I felt weird asking my father these questions, even as an interpreter. I already knew the answers to most, and some are just strange answers to provide to someone you just met. He handled himself well, responded with answers that satisfied the ones the were bold enough to ask, and I was almost in the clear. We said our goodbyes, advised the women watch their step, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
I turned to go back in the house, and as if some great epiphany had hit, like remembering to turn off a stove, the older woman asked, “What about you… do you know the Lord?”
My response was soft and I smiled as I said, “I’m not sure if that is any of your business.”
She said it was her mission, her calling, her purpose, even, to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that is why she asked. With some sense of compassion, I considered a response that would include something to let her know I was not offended, but also unwilling to share such a personal part of my life in a five minute conversation with a stranger. I do understand her motivation, and even her desire, to some extent. It was then that I asked a question.
“What of the gospel of Jesus Christ have you shared during the last fifteen minutes?”
This is the rub. Nothing was said about Jesus, or God, or anything remotely related to the gospel. A lot about churches, a lot about people we commonly knew, a lot about teachings of the church, but nothing about Jesus. My problem, in all honesty, with the whole mess, was not the questions, or the approach, or even the mention of their religion, but it was the inefficiency and misguided way in which their goals were being accomplished. It seems simple. What if my dad had come out and found the gaggle of college kids that were walking around his neighborhood in dress clothes, in his front yard, sweating as they raked his leaves? What if the two women offered my father a candle, or a blanket, or some gift, rather than a pamphlet that will go unread? What if sharing the gospel could be done without one written or spoken word?
I am not just picking at these women, this church, or even Christianity, only. Every self-help guru has a paid service. Most “free” books, cost something, and there is very little love that is shown without some string attached. Churches have to perpetuate the existence of churches. Just like Tony Robbins, Joe Dispenza, and Joyce Myers, Joel Olsteen, and Abraham Hicks, have to create customers for what they are offering. I will be selling some items on this website, and I hope they are a value to those that purchase them, but I will not be selling what has always been offered for free. These blogs are not a free hit of crack just to get you addicted. One of my joys has been to write and share these stories. Another joy has become the pictures and quotes on our Facebook page… check it out.
If this article has left you with a question about my religious affiliation or my relationship with the divine, or Jesus in particular, check out my life. Check out my considerations, my thoughts, what I do and how I do those things. It is not that it is none of your business, but it is that to have the right to know, you must put in the work. Too many of us just say a thing. Too many of us just accept a thing as true. Being satisfied, with who and what we are in relation to the divine, often times is predicated by the lack of any inclination to speak about, who and what we are in relation to the divine. I will end with a quote from Maya Angelou. Happy Sunday.
“I’m working at trying to be a Christian, and that’s serious business. It’s like trying to be a good Jew, a good Muslim, a good Buddhist, a good Shintoist, a good Zoroastrian, a good friend, a good lover, a good mother, a good buddy – it’s serious business.” – Maya Angelou